The Saldanha-Sishen Viaduct

The Milestones of the Export of Iron Ore

Looking back through time

Saldanha Bay, located on the western seaboard of South Africa has long been known to be the best natural harbour on the African coast, a fact which remained hidden for centuries until 1601, when it was stumbled upon by Dutch explorer Van Spilbergen.

Its potential as a deep sea port lay dormant until 1969 when feasibility studies for an extensive iron ore export project recognised Saldanha Bay as the perfect setting for a port that would launch South African Iron Ore into the world market.

Construction of the 861 kilometre line began a few years later on the 1st of June 1973 and drew to completion with the arrival of the first iron ore train in Saldanha Bay on 14 May 1976.

Over time, the operation has continued to break new ground in positioning Transnet Freight Rail as a leader in the South African business community and indeed as an icon in the heavy haul and rail transportation industries, locally and abroad.

1 June 1973

Construction begins

14 May 1976

First iron-ore from Sishen arrives at Saldanha.

27 September 1976

First export consignment leaves Saldanha on the “Fern Sea”

April 1978

Sishen-Saldanha line taken over by South African Railways & Harbours

15 November 1978

First train with Beeshoek (near Postmasburg) Ore arrives at Saldanha

1979/80

More than 18 million tons of Iron Ore is exported in a single year

January 1980

First metal concentrate from Aggeneys arrives at Saldanha

30 October 1984

The 100 millionth ton of Iron Ore is exported

July 1988

The largest single consignment ever of Export Iron Ore (293 280 t) is loaded

26 August 1989

A once-off record-breaking “Monster Train” of over 7km in length is listed in the Guinness Book of Records

1992

Total Iron Ore exported since start-up reaches 200 million ton level

1994/95

More than 20 million tons is exported in a single financial year

1995/96

22 259 million tons of Iron Ore exported in a single financial year

20 February 1998

Amalgamated ISO listing is awarded

1998

Total Iron Ore exported since start-up reaches 300 million ton level

September 1999

Gold Award from the National Productivity Institute (NPI) to business partners Transnet Freight Rail, Transnet Port Terminals port of Saldanha and Iscor for outstanding achievement in productivity improvement (M-ORE Project.)

2001

The Iron Ore Export Channel celebrates its 25th anniversary

2001

Total Iron Ore exported since start-up reaches 400 million ton level

October 2002

Winner of the Annual Logistics Achiever Awards for the M-ORE (capacity expansion) project

22 February 2004

The highest tonnage throughput for one week is recorded at 585 012 tons

August 2004

Radio Distributed Power: Proof of concept tests and radio receptivity tests by means of voice controlled Distributed Power train

2005

Total Iron Ore exported since start-up reaches 500 million ton level

August 2005

Voice controlled DP test train in both directions, introducing different train compilation to 2004 test

August 2005

Voice controlled DP test train in both directions, introducing different train compilation to 2004 test

August 2006

Locotrol RDP equipment tested on train consist of 5x 9E and 3x DE and a single train driver

August 2007

RDP test train to verify parameters, witnessed by Railway Safety Regulator

August 2007

RDP test train to verify parameters, witnessed by Railway Safety Regulator

17 December 2007

First ever 342 RDP production train departs from Sishen

May 2008

New Iron Ore mine at Khumani starts railing Iron Ore for export markets

2008

Total Iron Ore exported since start-up reaches 600 million ton level

5 July 2009

New weekly throughput record of 899,592 tons in a single week

6 July 2009

1000th loaded RDP train arrives at Saldanha

26 July 2009

Highest ever weekly throughput of 955,800 tons in a single week. First time ever that actual production matches planned production 100% normally line operates at 95% efficiency

10 August 2009

One billionth gross ton (mass of locomotives + mass of wagon s + mass of iron ore) traverses the iron ore line

15 September 2009

The first new generation 15E class locomotive, locomotive number 15001 is delivered to the Export Iron Ore Line

28 September 2011

A total of 44 new generation 15E class locomotives have already been commissioned on the Export Iron Ore Line…paving the way for the capacity expansion on the line

20 November 2012

The first train with Iron Ore from the Kolomela Mine departs

26 March 2012

The Export Iron Ore Line ended the 2011/2012 financial year on a high by setting a new operations weekly throughput record of 1,222,000 million tons

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